Michigan State Parks to get $250 million dollar upgrade

Matthew Donnellon

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Big changes are coming to the Mitten State’s parks.

Gov. Whitmer recently announced that they are putting together a quarter billion dollar plan to re-invigorate parks and trails around the state.

The money comes from federal stimulus money the state received for Covid relief. The money will help get the outdoor spaces back on track, “Whitmer said the state has a backlog of $264 million in parks maintenance requests. Proposed spending will include the upgrading of water and sanitary systems, preserving historical structures, and fixing vital park infrastructure, Whitmer said.”

In order for the money to be dispersed it would have to get through the Repuplican controlled state legislature, historically they have been opposed to most of the governor’s actions, but Ed Mcbroom, R-Vulcan, the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee has expressed support for the plan.

He spoke to the Free Press, saying that, “an excellent idea to invest in this vital part of Michigan's infrastructure for the long term."

The Senator also had to good idea to place the money in the state park endowment fund which would allow the annual interest it makes to go the parks as well.

The aid money will go to address a number of concerns including, but not limited to “upgrading of water and sanitary systems, preserving historical structures, and fixing vital park infrastructure, Whitmer said.”

Much of the money will go to re-vitalizing northern parks, the Detroit Free Press showed a number of upgrades the government is hoping to make:

  • At Algonac State Park, $2.5 million to upgrade restrooms and showers, resurface and reconstruct roads, update electrical and sanitation systems, and build a new registration office.
  • At Cheboygan State Park, $1.6 million to replace the water and sewer distribution and electrical systems at the campground.
  • At Fort Wilkins State Park, $300,000 to upgrade the water and sewer system at the campground.
  • At Hoffmaster State Park, $1 million to improve the road and parking lot at the campground and day-use area.
  • At Straits State Park, $1.8 million to replace two campground bathroom and shower buildings and a day-use bathroom building.
  • In Houghton County, about $4 million to complete restoration of the Lake Linden Trail that was destroyed during the Father’s Day flood of 2018. Many might wonder how money earmarked for Covid relief is allowed to go to state parks.

Gov. Whitmer justified the spending by saying that the coronavirus pandemic severely damaged Michigan’s tourism and hospitality industries, and that this money would be used to replace the lost revenue from having the state shut down last year.

Also, she reasoned that investing in the state’s parks and trails systems would make the state a destination for outdoor enthusiasts which would help bring in needed tourist dollars. The numbers support this, “Dan Eichinger, director of the Department of Natural Resources, said more than 35 million people visited Michigan's 103 state parks last year, up 32% from the year before. This year that trend is continuing "and even growing," he said.”

So keep an eye out for your favorite trails this year because they might be getting a facelift.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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